Psilocybe baeocystis (Potent Psilocybe)

Description: Sticky, conical, brown cap with brownish gills and off-white stalk; bruising blue.

Cap: 1.5-5.5 cm wide; conical with incurved margin, expanding to convex or flat; sticky, olive- to buff-brown, bruising and aging greenish about margin.

Gills: attached, close, broad; grayish, becoming dark purplish-gray.

Stalk: 5-7 cm long, 1.5-3 mm thick; whitish, covered with small, whitish fibers.

Veil: partial veil evanescent.

Spores: 10-13 X 6.3-7 m; elliptical, smooth, with pore at tip. Spore print dark purplish.

Edibility: Hallucinogenic.

Season:September-November.

Habitat Scattered to numerous, in wood chips, on decayed wood, and decaying moss.

Range: Pacific N.W.

Look-alikes: P. strictipes has long, brittle, straight stalk. The hallucinogenic P. cyanescens has broad, wavy knobbed cap.

Comments: This species is a potent hallucinogen that contains several active compounds. Its side effects are not well known.

"Potent Psilocybe" image and excerpt from Gary H. Lincoff's National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, (1981, 2004, pp. 723-724).

Teonanacatl

Teonanacatl, which means flesh of the gods in Aztec, is only one of the many drugs used by Shamans (curandero) in Mexico's Oaxaca State. These mushrooms, comprised of a number of Psilocybe and Conocybe species, are incorporated to this day into magic and religous ceremonies. this usage of these mushrooms as a divinatory substance can be traced back at least 3000 years. In Guatamala, stones have been found in the form of mushroom caps with a spirit figure on the stems.

The Spanish chroniclers and naturalists who first came to the New World mentioned several plants which were stimulating, narcotic, or intoxicating. The use of these plants in religious ceremonies was frowned upon by the early missionaries and, indeed, mushrooms were thought to be agents of the devil. The natives, however, continued secretly to use these drugs which they considered holy, even after they were converted to Christianity.

As early as 1936, some North American investigators established that mushrooms were still being used in religious ceremonies in certain areas of southern Mexico. In the summer of 1955, R. Gordon Wasson, V. P. Wasson, and French mycologist Roger Heim, were the first white persons to attend the once secret mushroom ceremony. Dr. Heim was able to identify the mushroom as species of Psilocybe and Panaeolus. Later, Albert Hofmann at Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, discovered the chemical identity and synthesis of psilocybin/psilocin.

R. Gordon Wasson popularized the magic mushrooms of Mexico in a now classic issue of Life magazine and in prolific subsequent writings. It is almost as though he were a reincarnation of an Aztec priest watching his ancient culture rise again from its ashes like the phoenix. Today the use of intoxicating mushrooms has spread from the state of Oaxaca to the entire world, as people discover magic mushrooms growing at their very feet. We can do nothing at this time to prevent people form using these mushrooms, but perhaps we can suggest how to use them and, above all, to respect them.

Other image and excerpt from Richard and Karen Haard's Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms, (1977, Colour Plate 27, pp.109-110).

To learn more about magic mushrooms, see:

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Potent Psilocybe (Psilocybe baeocystis).jpg
Psilocybe baeocystis.jpg
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